Is it possible to achieve more Member ROI from meetings? I believe it is possible, and with just a few simple adjustments.
For many associations and societies, the annual meeting and or Expo delivers the most value…as perceived by staff and volunteer leaders. But does it?
What’s the Feature of Membership?
Your convention is not a feature of membership unless you have a closed industry meeting (like IPCPR). Therefore, the feature of membership is actually the event registration discount. Make sure your member vs non-member registration differential is in the area of about 75% of the cost of membership. This way your organization will comply with U.S. antitrust laws. Additionally, you’ll maximize the financial advantage you deliver to your members.
To really boost Member ROI from meetings, develop member-only activities at your meeting and prominently promote these activities in all materials as such. Do you have a highly distinguished industry guru present at your meeting? Consider making that session member-only and station your staff or volunteers at the door to police it. Policing the door is critical to your success. Make a critical review of your meeting and look for opportunities to place member-only activities during, and after, business hours. Find ways to let your members know that they are very important based on meeting access.
Designate Membership on Convention Badge
Something as simple and cost-effective as having convention badge holders state, “XYZ Organization Member” can go a long way to help deliver increased member ROI from meetings by visually acknowledging your members. Also it makes it far easier to police the member-only events. No need to be punitive and display “Non-Member” on the badge holders. Just have blank holders for the non-members. That’s good enough.
I recommended to one of my clients a simple Member ROI from meetings adjustment—charging non-members for the free opening night party and auction. This organization relies heavily on income from its yearly expo, and implements the expo better than any other organization in their industry. Expo passes are either free or extremely low cost to non-members. The logic is maximum number of bodies in the expo to serve the associate/supplier exhibitors.
Recently, this organization started charging non-members to attend the party…approximately $40, nothing outrageous. The outcome was that eight people complained (boycotting the party) and 200 bought tickets. The executive director thanked me for helping to increase the expo’s profitability.
More importantly, the members now see attendance to the opening night party as a feature of membership—delivering to them a financial advantage.
Innovation to Surge Member ROI from Meetings
This is where your creativity comes in. Since there really are no two meetings or membership organizations that are exactly the same—you will have to translate the above ideas into your specific situation. Look close at every facet of your meeting; engage all your departments in an ideation session to determine a strategy and tactics to implement the strategy.
To grow your Member ROI from Meetings, consider:
- Work to make your organization more member-ROI-centric
- Membership is everybody’s business; challenge every department/silo to determine how they can help in the effort
- Just because you have done it a certain way in the past, hold every meeting activity as a possibility for increasing Member ROI
- Explore closer the balance between the needs of your supplier members to have bodies at events and the need of your members to receive a reasonable ROI from the entire meeting
- Check with your At-Counsel to determine how to comply with antitrust laws while pricing multiple events/activities for non-members as generally you can have the above mentioned differential for multiple activates at your meeting
Ed is the Founder and CEO of the 501(c)(3) non-profit public charity, Cigar PEG Philanthropy through Fun, and president at Rigsbee Research which conducts qualitative member ROI research and consulting for associations and societies. He has been called “the dynamite that broke up our log jam” by association executives—rarely politically correct and almost always provocative—and from a dozen years as a United States Soccer Federation referee, Ed calls it the way he sees it. Exceptional resources at www.rigsbee.com.
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